Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness - Suzy Favor Hamilton (2015)

Chapter 12. ATF

After the appointment, I literally ran down the strip in my bare feet with my heels dangling in one hand. Even though the strip was jammed with people, as usual, I didn’t see anyone around me. I arrived at the Palazzo just in time, ready to win this silly race.

The casino was packed with women in their high heels, looking nervous about the possibility of falling on their faces as they waited for their turns to sprint seventy-five yards to win the five-thousand-dollar first prize. With so many women packed in amid the dinging bells and flashing lights of the casino floor, I had a hard time finding Mark standing by the starting line, as I had instructed him, holding my tight black shorts and tank top. I rushed up to him.

“They’re looking for you at the start,” Mark said.

“Okay, I’ll get over there,” I said, ducking into a nearby bathroom to change.

At the starting line, I looked down the row of girls running with me. We were all a special part of the event, the final race of the evening and the celebrity heat that wasn’t allowed to be in on the prize purse. I recognized several girls from sexy B movies I’d seen. They were so stunning, in their short skirts and flowing, styled hair. Now I felt like I really had to stand out. Beneath my tank top, I had on the sexy bra I’d worn to my escorting appointment. I yanked my shirt off and tossed it on the ground. I won’t be needing that anymore. Standing there in my black bra with silver metallic accents lining its rim, I felt completely comfortable and normal. In fact, I was having a blast. At this moment, my two worlds collided. I was at a race. I was running, but I was running in a bra and heels. It was perfect, the moment when the two sides of my life became one. I’d raced a million times with my parents, my coaches, Mark assessing my every move. I’d been made to feel ashamed for getting attention for my looks. I’d said no to Playboy. I’d had a breast reduction so I could look the part of the perfect athlete. I’d stopped selling my calendar when my father raged with embarrassment. I’d been humiliated in front of the entire world in the Olympics, not once but three times. I was done with all that. Now I was going to race my way, on my terms.

I won the race easily, and although I couldn’t collect any prize money, I reveled at being in the center of the cheering throng. I barely registered Mark’s presence, somewhere behind me in the crowd.

Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, my disposable phone buzzed in my purse again. Bridget sounded excited.

“Paul called me after your appointment and said you’re his ATF,” she said.

“ATF?”

“All-time favorite,” she explained.

“Oh, wow,” I said. “Yeah, that was fun. He’s really nice.”

“Well, he must think you’re really nice, too, because he wants you to come back tonight,” she said. “I’m having dinner with Paul and his friend and they want you to join us.”

“Really? That’ll be great. Of course I’ll be there.”

I knew from our conversation the day before that Bridget had once been an escort herself, and I figured she was curious about this new woman one of her top clients had described as his all-time favorite. That was fine with me. I loved being praised, and it only increased my confidence. I couldn’t wait. I was in overdrive. It was a relief that Mark was also off doing his own thing, watching the L.A. Kings downstairs in the Sports Book, so I didn’t have to explain myself to him. It was already almost time for me to leave for my second appointment, so I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to enjoy the process of getting ready, anticipating the pleasure of the encounter that was to come. I still really only had the one sexy outfit, which I had worn earlier in the day, and so I pulled on my most flattering jeans and a tight top, put on my makeup, and brushed out my hair until it was shiny and smooth.

I met Bridget, Paul, and his friend for dinner at the Palm, a restaurant at Caesars. She was dressed casually and clearly felt comfortable around the two men, who she had known for some time. I wasn’t hungry in the least, but I loved the feeling of being wined and dined by the men in Vegas, so I was enjoying myself. We sat at a tall bar table and had dinner, laughing and talking like old friends. Toward the end of the meal, two young women in heavy makeup and short dresses approached.

“Hi, Paul,” said the blond girl, her voice sexy and familiar.

“Hi, ladies,” Paul said. “Nice to see you again.”

“What are you guys up to tonight?” said the second woman.

I gathered that Paul and his friend had recently met these girls at the hotel, and now the women were desperate to hook up with them. I definitely sensed a gold-digging vibe. I certainly wasn’t judging anyone, but I laughed a little inside. Clearly, these girls had no clue that there was no chance. Paul slid several crisp hundred-dollar bills into the leather sleeve containing the check for our meal.

“Sorry, ladies, we were just leaving,” he said, standing up and waiting for Bridget and me to do the same before he turned to go, like a true gentleman. The girls exchanged a worried look, unhappy we were leaving without them.

As we walked out of the restaurant, they were close behind us, as if they intended to trail us into the elevator and back to Paul’s room. How do we get rid of these girls? We need to go. We’re working. An elegant solution popped into my mind.

“Will my husband please get over here?” I said to Paul.

He looked ready to laugh but strolled over to where I was and put his arm around me. The girls then took off, just like that.

I was still learning how everything worked, and if I’d been a little surprised when Bridget had told me that she was friends with Paul, I was definitely surprised when she headed back to the room with us. But I was excited, too. Here was an all-new adventure for me to enjoy, whatever it might turn out to be.

This time, when Paul opened the door and welcomed us into his suite, I was ready for the grandeur and my nonchalance wasn’t an act. I watched Bridget closely, wanting to learn how things were done by a true pro, noticing with interest the way she and Paul leaned in toward each other. He almost looked like her lover rather than a client, even though she didn’t so much as kiss him on the cheek, and both he and I knew she had a boyfriend—a fact I’d been interested to learn after I’d begun working for the service—and wasn’t going to be spending her night in that suite. I had thought I was going to be with Paul, so now I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But this didn’t make me nervous. I liked the uncertainty.

I turned my attention to Paul’s friend.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” I asked, echoing Bridget’s casual intensity and walking right over and sitting down next to him, as if I’d known him for years.

“Yes, very much,” he said, his voice low and husky with the stirrings of desire.

Bridget was flirting with Paul, even though she had no intention of sleeping with him, but I could tell she was keeping tabs on my conversation, and I gathered from the bemused look on her face that she was pleased. Paul handed me a glass of pinot, and from the first sip, I felt its velvety power snaking through my veins, already pulsing from the wine we’d had at dinner. After we finished our drinks, more drinks were poured, and it soon felt like a party. I was aware of Bridget observing me, and I definitely felt like I had to be at my best. Again, everything happened really quickly. I was the first one to get my clothes off, stripping down to my simple black Calvin Klein bra-and-panty set. I drank my wine and talked a mile a minute about how much fun I was having. I embraced the wild girl I’d long wanted to be. It felt so good. I went over to Bridget and we started kissing, which the guys definitely enjoyed, and then we just kind of paired off from there. Paul’s friend grabbed my arm to lure me closer to him, and we started making out.

The next thing I knew, I was stripped completely naked, in bed with Paul’s friend, who was also naked. This time, I was going to be the aggressor, and I made the first move, being sure to exude sexy confidence and high-energy fun. Not that I really had to do much acting. I was having the time of my life. Meanwhile, Bridget and the cowboy settled onto the other bed in the spacious room. When he finally realized they weren’t going to have sex—not for a lack of trying on his part—they settled down and watched us, giggling the whole time.

I wasn’t self-conscious in the least. If anything, being watched—and praised—turned me on even more. The fact that most people probably would have found the scene bizarre only added to my excitement. I wasn’t most people anymore. I was Kelly. And the truth was, the capacity for this had been in me all along.

I had no idea what time it was or how long I was expected to stay, since we’d never talked about the specifics of this appointment. Finally, I realized it was getting late, and by the look of things, this could go on all night. I could feel the wine wearing off and it hit me that my husband was here in Vegas, too, and probably wondering where I was. I was lying naked in bed with Paul’s friend, taking a break. I turned to Bridget.

“Do you mind?” I said. “I’ve got to go.”

Bridget sat up in bed a little bit and turned to Paul. “Kelly’s got to go,” she said.

He nodded.

“I left an envelope for you in the bathroom,” he said.

After retrieving my envelope of money, I said good-night to the two men. Then I walked into the lounge of the suite to get dressed, with Bridget following behind me. As she walked me to the door, she said, “You are something else. That was so much fun.”

I was overjoyed—I had made two thousand dollars having a wonderful time.

“I’m here for one more day,” I said. “And I’ll be back soon.”

“Great. I’ll try to send something your way,” she said.

I gave her a kiss and headed out into the hallway, wondering how Mark would be when I got back to our room. I found Mark sleeping, so I moved about the room as quietly as possible, taking a shower and then kissing him on his cheek and lying down in bed next to him, even though my body was still thrumming from the excitement of the day and sleep was the last thing I wanted.

The next day, Bridget again called me and told me that Paul wanted to see me one last time. I was thrilled that I’d made such a good impression on such a good client.

This time, when I walked along the hushed, elegant hallway to Paul’s room, the path was familiar. I wasn’t nervous at all when I stood waiting outside the enormous doors to Paul’s suite, waiting for him to let me in. And then he opened the door, and as I seductively stretched my body up to kiss him, I could just see the room behind him. It was full of men. Not just his friend from the night before, but three other men. They were slightly younger and all wearing cowboy hats. As I stepped into the room it buzzed with the charged energy that happens when men and women are alone together and sex is on the horizon. The only question on my mind was how much sex, and with how many of these men.

If I had felt reluctant to share the details of my previous appointments with Mark, I definitely was not going to tell him about this one. I didn’t feel that there was anything wrong with what I was doing. I’d enjoyed it, even. But I knew Mark would never let me come back if I told him. So I did my best to act normal when I rejoined him in our room and we packed up our luggage and prepared to leave.

We flew to Los Angeles, where Kylie was staying at Mark’s parents’ house in Malibu. After visiting for a few days, we traveled down to San Diego for an appearance I had agreed to make. The whole trip, I could not stop thinking about Vegas. Shortly thereafter, my disposable phone rang. It was Bridget letting me know that another top client wanted to meet me. I let her know I was on my way back.

AS I BEGAN DRESSING, TUCKED into my room back in Vegas, I immediately began turning myself into Kelly.

Although Kelly was definitely a real part of me that felt like it had always been lurking inside, wanting to get out, I also gave some serious thought to who Kelly was and how she should behave. And I soon made a surprising discovery. She’s just like Mary, I thought, consciously modeling my new alter ego on my beloved best friend. Not that I could have ever pictured Mary as an escort. But I’d so admired Mary for being such a strong, independent, witty badass who always spoke her mind and didn’t care if people agreed with her or not. Most important, Mary had used her voice, quitting running when it no longer inspired her and fighting her cancer on her own terms, even in her final days. I wanted to be like that, too—or I wanted Kelly to be like that.

My client this time was staying at the Mandalay Bay. I happily walked through the frantic casino floor on my way to the elevator bank, thrilling when I felt men’s admiring glances trace the lines of my body.

When I got upstairs to the client’s suite, I was met by a good-looking, very wealthy corn farmer from the Midwest, Bob, who was in his mid-sixties. He had sexy silver-gray hair and a confident, seductive air about him. As had become the norm, I approached him as if he was an old lover who had been looking forward to a reunion. He seemed pleased. He had paid for two hours, and instead of getting naked right away, he wanted to go down and gamble. I knew my role and walked proudly by his side, giving him the thrill he wanted, being able to walk through the casino with an attractive, much younger woman by his side. He sat down at the hundred-dollar slots, pulling out a roll of hundred-dollar bills and eagerly sliding the first one into the slot. I perched on the stool next to him, carefully adopting my most seductive pose.

“Good luck,” I said as he pushed the button to operate the slot.

But he didn’t win, and before I knew it, he’d lost two thousand dollars. Shrugging like he was bored, he stood up. You lost two thousand dollars like it was nothing. Could you just give that to me instead? I thought, but I didn’t say a word.

“Come on, let’s go get a drink,” he said.

I trailed him into the bar, where he ordered me a glass of pinot and we sat down at a small table together.

“So what brings you to Vegas?” I asked.

“Business,” he said. “I’m in the corn business, and I’m here with my friend who produces the seed I use to grow my corn.”

“Fun,” I said. “Do you guys travel a lot?”

“Yeah, we both need to get away from home. I’m married,” he said, as if the marriage explained why he needed to get away as much as he did.

“You’re not happy?” I said, feeling like I could really connect with him.

“Not anymore,” he said. “Not for a long time. My grandkids make me happy. They’re great. But my wife? Don’t ask. Sometimes I travel with a woman I know from Denver. Maybe you and I could take a trip together sometime.”

“I’d like that,” I said.

“Have you ever been to Denver?” he asked.

“Oh, sure, a bunch of times,” I said. “I’ve been all over the West and the Midwest. I went to the University of Wisconsin.”

“Really?” he said, his voice sounding excited.

I was too new at escorting to know that the men coveted information about the girls they saw because it made them feel like they had special, favored status. And I hadn’t yet learned to be careful about my words. I didn’t want to be just another random escort. I wanted to forge a connection with my clients, to make it feel like we were friends; that connection was a huge part of the turn-on for me, and without it I felt less of the thrill of the moment. After we finished our drinks, we went upstairs to his room. I was quickly naked and on my hands and knees on the enormous bed. Somewhere along the line, without thinking about it, I referred to myself in the third person.

“Come on, Suzy . . .” I said, and then my voice trailed off as I realized what I’d done. But I quickly carried on as if nothing had happened, hoping he did not catch it.

I noticed that he was watching me very closely, but I figured there was no way this man could piece together who I was with so little information. There were a lot of Suzy’s in the world. How would he know which one I was?

I wanted to win at my new game, which in this world meant having many repeat clients. My strategy was paying off. Bob seemed to have an amazing time, and before I could leave, he was already making plans.

“I want to see you again,” he said.

“Yes, of course,” I said.

“I want you to be my regular girl,” he said. “I’m not going to see any other escorts.”

“I like the sound of that,” I said. “Next time, go ahead and text me and we’ll set it all up.”

This was exactly what I was looking for: to be the best, and I was thrilled.

Being bipolar means being insatiable. The high of the mania is never high enough. There is always a desire—a need—to push the high to the next level, in the same way that a drug addict constantly requires more and stronger drugs. For a person with bipolar disorder, risky behavior can be the best drug of all. And there are particular kinds of dangerous activities that feel better than others; sexually provocative behavior is near the top of the list. Also up there are spending large sums of money, and taking drugs and drinking alcohol. In a way that someone without bipolar disorder may have difficulty understanding, there is no longer any voice of reason that can assess the potential negative consequences or stop the behavior. Much like a teenager without any impulse control, a person with bipolar disorder can only see the immediate positive outcome of feeding the high: it will feel good. Everything else—family, friends, employers, safety—falls by the wayside in pursuit of the high. My own time in Vegas is almost like a textbook case of untreated bipolar disease, and for those who wonder how a small-town midwestern girl married to her college sweetheart could have gotten so far out of control, there’s your answer right there. Along with my other symptoms of bipolar disorder came a drive to engage in risky behaviors that never would have occurred to me before, from jumping out of an airplane and working as an escort to daytime drinking and spending thousands and thousands of dollars on clothes and jewelry and miscellaneous crap I didn’t really need. While I was in Vegas, my bipolar disorder drove me on endlessly.